tv American Artifacts CSPAN November 7, 2015 1:00pm-1:31pm EST
is seth paridon. right now, we are standing in the uss tang submarine experience. uss tang was built in 1943 and commissioned in 1944 during the second world war. vallejo class submarine, which at the time in 1944, was the most modern submarine of the day. she was a rather large summary. she had endless men and officers. her sole main purpose was to patrol the pacific ocean and sink japan war and merchant ships. by 1944, technology advanced and so much so that the boats that were commissioned earlier in the war, they were not obsolete by any means, but the ones commission, such as the tang bal
ao-class had better radar, sound, and better torpedoes, which the submarine was plagued in 1943 and even in 1944 with faulty torpedoes that would not explode, they would have circular runs and would not do their job and it was costing u.s. sailors their lives. mockupce we are in is a of the inside of a balao-class submarine. it is not to scale for reasons, but it is the best that you can do in modern times. things on the wall, ,ials, gauges, torpedo tubes paris goats, they are modeled after original material down to torpedo tubes, they are modeled after original
material down to this. we are standing in what is supposed to be inside of the uss tang. this exhibit is designed to bring visitors as close as possible so what sailors and americans fleet submarines in 1944 experienced in fighting the japanese. involved soe force that earlier in the war, most underwaterwere made with periscopes. there was an evolution in commanding officers during late 1942, all the way into 1944, that's a lot of u.s. submarines, skippers through the book out. remaink prewar was to unseen, undetected, strike when not expected and sink by torpedo when submerged. it was quickly realized that that was not the best way to get the job done.
submarine skipper like dudley, walker, they were nicknamed mush, and people of this john are developed tactics to where the submarines were no longer trying to say -- people of this tactics toeveloping where the summaries were no longer trying to stay visible. they would attack on the service at night, getting the midst of a japanese convoys, create as much havoc as they could, sink as many ships and escape unscathed. morton and guys like sam dealey and later richard o'kane really took those tactics and honed into the financial and made the submarine in the u.s. one of the fighting forces that ever went to war. richard o'kane was the first and only officer of the tang in he had served as executive officer under deadly -- debbie walker.
walker.y they combined to be a deadly team. morton was an officer who tend to break the rules and did things his own way. -- youe the boat 12 o go the boat 12 richard o'kane manned the periscope. the skipper was the one that manned the periscope and did everything and more to did not believe that was the best way to get things done. you had -- he had pretty much richardward -- mentored o'kane to this finely tuned machine, without a doubt, the greatest submarine skipper. annually, o'kane took command of the tang and she said sale in genuine 1944. set sail in 1944.
she went on five war patrols, her first was in the 22nd of january to the fourth of march, 1944. on her first, she sank five merchant ships. that is a pretty good score for the first patrol. a summary, as any ship or military force, they operate as a team and it took a little while, even though they were well-trained, it took a little while to get them oiled up. and ready to go -- oiled up and ready to go. the second ending on the 15th of may, 1944, she was not assigned her normal duty. or normal duty was to find any ships and sink and kill them. it was the opposite on the second patrol. it was that of a life-saving mission. she was set up as a lifeguard, if you will, during the american naval airstrike on a truck island. what her job was was to locate downed american pilots who were shot down or forced to ditch and
going rescue them. the submarine would surface, they would get the downed airmen, bring them aboard the submarine, submerge, find more and picked them up, basically a relate to bring them back to fight another day. in that patrol, in the course of about three days, tang picked up 22 american aviators, a record that obviously still stands today. whichved 22 guys' lives is contradictory to what she was designed to do. nonetheless, it was an impressive mission, so much so that tang gained national recognition. the picture the skipper, o'kane, some of the crew, and there is a picture of o'kane standing up surrounded by the 22 aviators that he and his crew rescued, and make national news. it was a big deal. o'kane had already been in the news before as executive officer
under morton, but the tang was getting recognition that most of the time submarines did not get, they were called the silent service for two reasons. one of which is because they are supposed to operate silently and sneak up. two is a lot at the summary veterans say that difficult assignment service because no one ever talked about them. it is true, they were a secret force and by exposing a lot of secrets, they could have and would have cost a lot of meant their lives. ofthe second patrol, instead sinking and taking lives, she rescued 22 american aviators. several of her crew were highly decorated, including one, james milton, he was a gunner aboard the tank. he was awarded this silver star for rescuing i believe to naval aviators by jumping into the water and going to get these guys and bring them back aboard. he was from the state of louisiana. he ultimately perished aboard on
the fifth patrol and several years ago, members of his family donated artifacts that were his, including the silver star, .urple heart on the third more patrolled on set14th of july, 1944, tang out to do her job which was to think japanese shipments. tang setird patrol, the record of sinking 10 enemy ships. that was unheard of on these patrols and most of them resulted in three ships to six ships and tang came back with 10. it showed the aggressive spirit of not only o'kane, but his crew. after the war, o'kane wrote two books, one of which which was called "clear the bridge." "wahther one was called oo."
o'kanear the bridge, talks about tactics he employed in sinking enemy ships. one of the once he did fairly often, as i mentioned, was to get on the surface and sink ships in the middle of the night. they could not see him. japanese had radar but it was not like our radar, and a lot of the ships did not have radar. radar was anything for them. they could not detect american submarines until the torpedoes started exploding, not all the time but a lot of the time. o'kane knew that, it was common theledge, any use that to crew benefit. on the fourth patrol, it was not as successful as the third, she sank five enemy ships and she was able to come home in one piece. ok, by this time, he had made for patrols with the tang and he ad five or four aboard previous submarine. he had seen a lot of action.
-- admiral charles, the boss of the north pacific, had told o'kane in no uncertain terms that your next patrol, which elite the fifth, is going to be a lost. you have done your duty, it is time to go home to your wife and children. thank you and we will find another job for you somewhere, but you have done enough. he was -- ok'd was not the kind of man to take -- o'kane was not the kind of man to take that well. he believed he was -- he was the crusader, he believed that he the war,e navy before he was a career officer, he wanted to finish the job. he had learned previously that his mentor and best friend, , had beenker morton reported missing when the uss walker was sunk.
when they were generally reported missing in action, that meant they were killed in action if they were not found. he felt like he had a mission to complete, not only finish the work, but avenge the death of his friend. on the fifth patrol, tang set out on september 24, only one month long, and the patrols were kind of short, because she would sink which she couldn't and get out of there. herbert trolls work significantly shorter than a lot of some bearings in the pacific. patrolsa lot -- her were significantly shorter than a lot of patrols in the pacific. the tang was by far the most successful than any other simmering in the world war ii. she sunk more than any other did and she almost doubled her personal record of scores. by the end of the fifth patrol, of tang had sunk a total 33, and that the has been even
close to that since. the fifth patrol ended with their final torpedo. --i mentioned, ok was cocaine was told this was his last rodeo, last time going out, ne was told that this was his last eroded, last time going out. familiar tactics of surfacing in the middle of the japanese convoy and the japanese convoy and attacking that night and sinking as many ships as he could. he hit several ships and damaged one in particular, it was a freighter, and it was sinking but not sunk. and justavily damaged kind of sitting there. one to let things said that, especially if he had two more torpedoes. he fired his final two torpedoes as it the final torpedo,
left the tube, a clear the boat and got out several yards ahead of the submarine and the submarine's cruising on the surface at this low-speed, and as the submarine clears in the torpedo queers, it starts to come back, boomerang, it jumps out of the water like a porpoise that is coming. the guys on the bridge can see it. o'kane being one of them. they could see the torpedo and they could see that it was coming right for them. it was coming back right toward the tang. it was evident that it was going to hit the submarine. ok, who is generally a very cool, calm collect the customer, he realized this is a moment of extreme crisis. allasically, he ordered
emergencies to try to get out of the way of the torpedo, he tried to turn it and get it out of the way of the torpedo coming back at them. unfortunately, a submarine that was moving at a slow speed, it is not like and not a mobile, you cannot floor it and take off, and although she gained speed, and she did do her best to get out of the way of the torpedo, but it was not enough. the capito slammed into the port side of the -- the torpedo blue and enormous coal and instantly killed just about everybody in the rear of the boat. tang started to go down by the stern. orderedent down, o'kane the hatch be close and the final words of the crew could hear was, close the hatch, close the hatch. the hatch was closed and every aboard the bridge, including o'kane were washed overboard into the water.
atg settled down stern first 180 feet of water. there were survivors inside the boat at the time. those people that were in their had enough knowledge to note that the only way the could possibly get out of that submarine was if they dropped the level and tried to escape to the escape hatch, so that is what they did, they floated and it settled down at 100 82 feet of water, flat, straight at the bottom of the ocean. previously, earlier in the war, they had designed -- the united states navy had designed and escape kit for submarine is to get out of sunken boats. there was one piece of equipping called [indiscernible] and it closed your nose and allowed due to breathe through basically two bags, kind of like ,n oxygen tank but not really it was designed for a short amount of breathing and it allowed you basically to get out of the sinking submarine. that was the sole purpose of it.
to cut a long story short, several hours later, several of the crew members inside the tang were able to get out. among andthe mom's hisguy basically held breath and i cap he wrote 180 feet. -- an incredible story, they were told not survivors -- they would -- they were told non-survivors, and this shows the men who were tang patrol and those with a purple heart our winds we cannot find photos for, but the images with the lights behind survivedify those who the sinking, who were washed overboard from the bridge like captain o'kane or those who escaped from the sunken boat under 180 feet of water.
jesse da silva and clayton decker were both survivors of the sinking as well as william truckeofficer larry, y was another, hank flanagan, and captain o'kane and pete and floyd were all survivors from the sinking of the boat. most of these gentlemen lived well into their later years. right now, as of october 6, 2000 15, there was only one survivor from the uss tang, william. and he alsohief retired as commander in the u.s. navy. later, he became close to his captain, captain o'kane who died in 1994. this is a picture of the battle like of the uss tang -- of the
paddle flight of the uss tang. they took on the role of pirates of the pacific. each crew developed their own o,ovider, -- bravad personality, and a lot designed battle flags. the battle flags were to begin to american submarines in the war and they are fascinating because each one is based off of crew's designs, they were not here ised but this one a simile of the tang and it is called the strangest japanese flag and the original story, and this is not the original, because the original is down 180 the crew the tang, took the japanese flag and one of the crewmen painted this black panther burst into the japanese flag because the tang was called the black panther of the pacific, and the boats with
paint little japanese flags for each kill that the summer and had. when they would come and support at pearl harbor, they would fly this thing like a pirate flag. there are several archival photographs of submarines tied up in pearl harbor and you can see the live the american flag butthese very odd looking cool looking battle flags that were designed by the crew. all 33 shipsts that she sunk during the war. the final 15 were added after the fifth patrol by a few non-survivors and survivors of the tang. this was created based off the memories of the few survivors. for the fifth patrol, o'kane was awarded the medal of honor and the tang was awarded the presidential citation. tankis focused on the uss
and in particular the fifth patrol, which was the most successful of any u.s. summary ishistory, this exhibit placed here in remembrance of the 52 american submarines that were sunk during the war. the wall behind me lists the names of all those sailors who served the board of submarines and who did not come back. it is is what they call that they are on the eternal patrol, the bodies had never been recovered and the submarines are still at the bottom of the ocean, which many have not been located. a few have, but many have not. this exhibit is really dedicated to not just the crewmen and survivors of the tang and those who did not survive, but all thoseine men, especially of the 52 boats who did not make it and the crewmen listed on the wall. the visitors come aboard a card, and given
the card is from random members of crew, and it uses these photographs and will be called the watch bill, and maybe watch bill. what it does is give a brief history on the uss tang and on the flipside, and has a gentleman's photograph and their name, and it tells you their job. they were either a radar operator, torpedo man, or what have you, and it lets you know that this was not a machine. crew of men, by a human beings, and it tries -- this exhibit tries to put you in touch with the men and give you an experience of what they saw, what they did and what they endured. re-creates the final attack of the tang on the japanese thelict on the morning of 24th of october and re-creates a secular one of the final torpedo as she slams into the side of the tang and it goes down. if you do not know that history
and you go through this exhibit, it is rather shocking, frankly, you do not know what is going on. neither did the guys inside the submarine. he had no idea what was coming, what would hit them, and when it did hit them, they had no idea. it kind of gives you that same experience as best as it can. [indiscernible] [video clip]
the chief, and clayton decker. those three members were the only three we were able to locate that would give the history. we interviewed them in 2011 and what is important to know about and the crew, when those guys were washed overboard and the escape the severing, they floated in the water for several hours and they were picked up by a japanese destroyer. the japanese destroyer that picked them up was escorting the convoy that the tang just destroyed the night before, so when the guys were picked up by the japanese crew, needless to say, they were not treated .icely by the japanese crew they were sent to several prison camps along the way and finally ending up in the most infamous japanese prison camp which is right outside of tokyo. it was the camp reserved for special prisoners and they were not considered prisoners of war
but they were considered pirates and war criminals because they sank japanese ships and killed merchant and not war, although the tang did both. they were regularly submitted to torture. basically, they had resigned themselves to their fate that they were not going to enter an easy life with remainder of the war. these guys languished in japanese prison camps or month until they were finally liberated after the united states and of the war with the atomic bombs on japan and the ultimate vituperation in 1945. when they were liberated in august 1945, all of the survivors of the tang all those who survive, or still alive which cannot be said for a lot of prisoners of the american japanese. o'kane had lost over 100 pounds and he was on death row, a lot of guys, including the chief,
who had doubts as to whether o'kane would make it back to the united states because he was in such poor health. thanks to the tubing of american personnel and o'kane's will to live, he did survive to the ripe age of 94 years old. i had known about the uss tang and read about it as a historian for several years. when we were putting this together, i poured my stuff into the history and story of the boat and crew and captain. commander too get do an interview with us because he was rather reluctant to speak . once he did allow us into his home, he was one of the most gracious human beings i had government in my life and his story is incredible. of the men, but to meet someone who served aboard
the boat, who endured not only a herring experience of war on the u.s. submarine during world war ii, but the experience aboard the tang, and the experience in a japanese prison camp, it was rather incredible. unfortunately, it is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of a thing. it is about as close as i will ever experience or ever get to experiencing this. the value of telling this story of sacrifice, to me, the ultimate sacrifice. i have a six-year-old little boy and three-year-old little girl, of my son is in absolute awe the submarines, and he thinks this is a real submarine. or at least he likes to think that. i do think he really does. [laughter] as a six-year-old boy, he is enamored by the light, flashes, explosions, the video, the wow of it all, but what i
try to do every single time we come through here, we stop right here. most people decide to stop and watch the video and they look at their card that was given to them and they, the watch bill, and they look to see if the person lived or died. sacrifice,t that because there were only nine survivors, we hope that sacrifice hits people. one of the things i do with my son of a timely come here, because he gets a different card every time, we stopped and i point out the person's nature that he has. i don't know which when he gets, he gets a different one every time, and i try to explain that the gets one where a person not survive, i try to explain that these people died so that he could do the things he does today, so he can enjoy the freedom he has today. that is card for a six-year-old to understand, and i don't think -- that isnds that
hard for six you'll to understand, and i don't think he understands that, but it is important that people understand that these men aboard the submarine's died to preserve our freedom. sacrificed all their tomorrow's for our today, and that is why this exhibit is here. it is not just to highlight the sacrifice of the tang, but the sacrifice of all the americans who died in submarines in the second world war. host: host: our continuing coverage from the world war ii museum in new orleans continues with your phone calls. our lines are open. here are the numbers. 202-748-89200 if you live in to eastern or central time zones. 01 if you live in the
mountain or pacific time zones. joining us, tom czekanski, thank you for being with us. what a fascinating job to be able to collect so many artifactfrom so many who have had parents and grandparents who serves in world war ii, or here on the homefront. walk us through some of the interesting things you have come across. mr. czekanski: there are a great things that have been interesting. one piece that comes to mind, there was a gentleman in the supply department after normandy, and he managed to figure out to use to less copies of the requisition form, and was awarded a bronze star for his actions. he received a bronze star for figuring out a better way to file paperwork. we have a copy of the paper that awarded that. that was